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Family Heritage Trip

Hi Everyone,
I am taking my parents to Germany in May to trace some family history. I have family names and city names (or region names?). Is there a resource I can contact to give me some history on a specific area of Germany? (it all seems to be north west Germany) Can someone recommend a company or a guide that I could hire to drive us there (or meet us) and show us around? I really want this to be engaging for my mother, and driving 2 hours because I looked up the city on google maps is not the experience I want (and this is all we are going to get at this point). I am planning a trip for 6 adults and 4 have never been out of the country. If this piece of the puzzle could be done for me, I would be eternally grateful.

Thank you in advance for your reply. Anna

Posted by
270 posts

I suggest you look at the website for Family Tree Tours and contact Kathy Wurth. She specializes in family heritage trips and should be able to point you in a helpful direction. She helped me with some planning that I wanted to do before a trip to Ireland. She is especially knowledgeable about northwest Germany. Now is a good time to research and plan for a trip next May.

Posted by
9009 posts

If you let us know the names of the towns, cities, etc. we can better assist you with your planning.

Small towns often have town archivists or historians and I have found them to be extremely helpful in doing research. You might also post your questions over on Trip Advisor where some of the Destination Experts may actually live in the towns you want to visit and can give you more specific help. I would also have a look at this website to see if there are people located in the towns or cities you are visiting that might be helpful.
http://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/

Have you already looked up locations on Ancestry.com or other genealogy sites? Wiki can also be useful to find out information about various cities, their history, photos, etc.

Posted by
3984 posts

We did an ancestry search in southwest Germany four years ago. With the name of the town (we had my great grandfather's travel document that listed his home town and date of immigration) and the internet we were able to find and correspond with a person with the same family name. We sent a photo copy of the document and a personal letter to the gentleman we found on line, a gasthaus owner. He took our information to the regional town's archivist who searched the church books and found the correct family we were related to. The town archivist and this gentleman took our information to the correct family and they contacted me. The archivist explained that many of the church record books are closed to the public now because of their fragile state and there is a regional official who will conduct family searches. All of this happened a couple of months before we were scheduled to go to Germany. A little gathering was arranged by the German family and we had about 40 relatives attend that I didn't know anything about. We held the party at the first contact person's gasthaus even though he wasn't related to me. It was wonderful. Hope you all have a memorable experience too. You've got a good amount of time to contact some of the links people on this forum have suggested and to do some internet searching yourself.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for the great tips! I am getting really excited about this leg of the trip now. We are looking to go to twist and Rebbeke. Hannover is another possibility, depending on time.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Anna

Posted by
33137 posts

going to "twist"? I guess the iPhone got you, but I can't work out "twist".

Posted by
868 posts

Hannover is another possibility, depending on time.

I wouldn't go there. Hannover is one of Germanys most boring cities and not really attractive, since the centre was completely destroyed in WW2.
To the west of Rebbeke is the Münsterland, which is famous for its water castles. There is a cycling route called "100 castle route" which connects some of them. Here is the official website (use Google Translate):
http://www.muensterland-tourismus.de/5116/100-schloesser-route-radtour

Beautiful towns close to Rebbeke are Soest, Lemgo, Hamelin or Höxter. Historically interesting are Münster and Osnabrück.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you again for your suggestions.

The region of Munsterland looks charming. Thank you for the link. Bike-riding in the German countryside will a perfect activity. I cannot thank you enough!

Yes, it is Twist, Germany. It is right on the border to the Netherlands. I think this is why I am having so much difficulty, these are tiny, tiny towns from the 1850's.

Again, thanks for the suggestions. This is going to be the best trip! Anna

Posted by
33137 posts

Well learn something new every day... ;-)

Good luck with your adventure...

Posted by
3984 posts

If you have time there is an interesting town nearby called Detmold that has an outdoor living history museum of buildings. Strolling through this open air park of styles of houses and barns from the past will give you a nice appreciation for how your ancestors might have lived. http://www.lwl.org/LWL/Kultur/LWL-Freilichtmuseum-Detmold/ We lived in this area for 7 months many years ago and really enjoyed the towns that Martin has mentioned previously (and Detmold).

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

I agree with the view on Hannover. Unless you want to practice your German there with those speaking Hannover Deutsch or want to see the Herrenhäuser Gärten, the city is not worth the time.

True, Soest , Hamelin, and Hoexter are much more interesting in seeing quaint and historic towns, Fachwerkhäuser. Soest is the oldest town in Westphalia. Hoexter is the town of the composer of "Deutschland Ueber Alles" His grave site is on the Schloss premises. If you are continuing northeastward from Soest, Minden an der Weser is the one town I would heartily recommend.

I never been to Lemgo, can't say anything about that town.

Posted by
19155 posts

Before you do ANYTHING else, I would contact a Family History Center at an LDS church. The Mormons have accumulated an impressive collection of microfilmed records for Germany and they are available for rent from Salt Lake City.

You don't say where you are from, but check your phone book for a Family History Center near you.

Posted by
2145 posts

Anna, this sounds like a wonderful trip. Please post a trip report when you return and let us know how everything works out!

Posted by
5 posts

Again, thank you everyone for your help. You have taken a large piece of my anxiety and turned it into excitement.

Thank you! Anna Vogel

Posted by
5 posts

Again, thank you everyone for your help. You have taken a large piece of my anxiety and turned it into excitement.

Thank you! Anna Vogel